Sunday, July 3, 2011

Now this is just not done...

Now I am no big fan of aishwarya rai and I care a damn whether Junior B is having a baby. But an article like this (aishwarya sacked for being preggers)surely did not go down well with me. I am no jingoist for feminism but if elite media ( read English dailies) are publishing reports about a career getting over is pitiful. Its sad that the first question which still gets asked when a working woman is pregnant is "would you continue to work" or " is her career over? Well this is a question most mothers- to-be dabble with especially when they are working but shouldn't it be left to them to decide?- whether they want to continue the way they are or opt for a flexi work option or even become stay at home ? I am assuming Mrs bachchan thought of all this before committing herself on the dotted line - the basic tenets of professionalism. The incidents of women getting shortchanged during pregnancy and maternity leave are dime a dozen. I have met friends in corporate world joining back work at a less meatier role or worse missing a promotion. Even in so called cocoons of government services, women have come back to far lesser important role only to begin all over again and its a big blow to the aspirations of most who were brought up by their parents to be on their own and have an ambition to carve a career for themselves. New moms are anyways struggling between the dichotomy of their mind guiding them to continue unabashed pursue of their career or to render love and care to their new born which is a task in itself and then you have people questioning your ability to manage both and work ethics. The infrastructure around is equally frustrating- dependence on maids  whose demand far exceeds the supply controlled by agents asking for 20K a year as commission last heard, no good daycare, nuclear families with grandparents not willing to relocate and to be fair  to them why should they? Their job is done now - its our journey and we need to tread it ourselves. For every working woman i have met who has had family support, I have also met an equally sulking woman at not having the liberty of being on their own- I mean you cant have everything right?You give some , you loose some. But whats equally frustrating is the attitude of the dominant gender in the workforce. As a husband , you might be empathising with your wife for all that she is doing but as a workforce participant there will be a general smirk for colleagues moving on maternity leave.

However its not a story where there are villains pulling the women folks down. The lady in question is equally responsible for her actions. first is a realization that being a mother definitely means some changes in the way you work. If you have a travelling job, you would need to either plan earlier to move onto a role more suited to you then or if you are involved in that, keep the stakeholders informed earlier- there is an equal thought floating that Aishwarya did not keep the producers in confidence on this impending development. I truly agree with thisTed Talk . Most women check out mentally much before they actually become mothers- No doubt its a big event but why is it an event for the woman- its a shared responsibility of both man of the house and lady of the house yet more women start to mentally be prepared that they will go on leave and when they will come back , their wont be much for them do. This is where we need to be strong- motherhood and your work should be taken in your stride- a responsibility bound to come and at that time if you intend to be serious about your career , then look for a solution. Show up after your maternity leave. Don't take the work lightly purely because you can blame it to the reason of motherhood. The two can co exists and not necessarily at the cost of each other. I distinctly remember coming back on the 91st day ( maternity leave being only 90 days in India) and having a very clear conversation with the new head of business whom I was meeting for the first time and he told me that he appreciated the fact that I am serious about my work and my career . all of us want the best of both worlds and that can be achieved  but only when you are dedicated towards both. If you continue to be perpetually on flexi hours even if the organization does not support it fully, procrastinate work and are there everyday in office only for attendance sake but mentally checked out, then sorry that does not work. You rather than take the courageous space some women take to give up the work life and truly dedicate themselves to their children. This middle way does not work.

But then all this is easier said than done. Each woman is unique and so is their approach to  motherhood. There are some who don't want to sit at home for they don't want to burden their children with the fact that they gave up a good degree and a great career for them - may be the kids will never understand it also, some actually manage both purely out of financial needs - My maid started work 2 months post her delivery and with no family member in foreign land, she actually pays a neighbourhood old woman to take care of her like many of her other mates who cannot afford taking it easy, there are actually some who come because they don't want to be at home with in laws being around - its too much of friction and then tthere are some who take it in their stride like men do. They like their work and barring a few bad days with no  support are able to manage both. Yet they have a hanging sword on their head -whether they are ensuring that by this their kids childhood is not messed up.

Our mothers never had the option. Most of them were homemakers and that's the way it was. We were raised as offshoot of their aspirations to be women who had the power of knowledge and the choice to work or not to depending on the circumstances. I sincerely hope and pray that by the time our daughters grow up the social ecosystem and infrastructure has evolved to an extent that her choice to work or not is dependent purely on  her individual interest and not on external  conditions and my son has the ability to appreciate, empathise and participate both as an individual in particular and society at large.

1 comment:

Chintan said...

The journalists are more like gossip mongers these days. Indians have gone far and beyond but the media is moving backwards...sigh.